As a Christian in a world of Christian diversity, it’s only common to run into, befriend, or even celebrate the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a Christian from another church. And it can be awkward at times, for a Lutheran to speak with a Baptist about Baptism. And it can be difficult for a Roman Catholic to speak to someone from the Reformed Church about free will. Maybe you never make it around to such heavy topics in a friendly conversation. Maybe you don’t know the difference. But if attention is drawn to the fact that you and this other person come from churches with differences--differences big enough to divide over--you feel the need to say something to ease the tension and overrule the awkwardness. One handy cliché that we like to use is, “Well, at any rate, we all worship the same God.”
I understand the need to ease the tension in such situations. “We all worship the same God”, is a way of saying, “We all believe in Jesus”. And it is always more polite to point out similarities than differences. At the same time I wonder if we have the right to say that we all worship the same God. No one has seen God (1 John 4:12), we only know him by his Word. And if God’s word is ignored, neglected, or misconstrued, (as EVERY denominational Christian must think somewhat of other denominations), at what point does the true God become so distorted that he becomes a different God altogether, an idol?
How can we tell if we all worship the same God? We need to be able to identify Him. Let’s take a cue from law enforcement, which has the task of identifying criminal suspects. Police officers have several ways they identify suspects that they are seeking. One method is using the police lineup.
The purpose of a police lineup is to make sure that the suspect they’ve caught is the right person, the “culprit.” So they bring in an eyewitness to ID the suspect out of a lineup of other random men. Imagine we have such a lineup, and the eyewitness points to the suspect and says, “Well officer, that one looks kind of like the guy, but the guy I saw was taller, with blue eyes” What if the policeman said, “Well that’s okay, at least we’re both trying to identify the same criminal--therefore he must be the culprit; case closed.”? Or what if the policeman responds, “Okay, so this chap doesn’t have blue eyes and he’s shorter than the person you saw, but he’s got the same hair color and name as the guy you’re seeking, so close enough—Book ‘em, Danno! After all, we’re both seeking after the same guy and this guy shares many similarities with the man you saw.”
No! Hopefully the police say, “Either we’ve got the wrong guy, or the eyewitness doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” In short, you don’t ID a criminal simply by getting a close match, you need to have a witness who is certain and gives a positive ID.
We have the Holy Scriptures as the witness, ready to give a positive ID, and without them, God is a faceless formless stranger. If we aren’t diligent in making a positive ID we might just grab any god off the street and cuff him. Before approaching God in worship, you need his mug shot from scripture, or your worship will be worthless.
So do all those who call themselves “Christian” worship the same God? Well that depends. Any Christian who searches the scriptures for God is certainly on the right track (Matthew 22:29). But if John Doe says “My God wouldn’t send anyone to hell”, and the Scriptures say “Fornicators, idolators, adulterers, sodomites, etc. will not inherit the kingdom of God,” (1 Cor. 6:9), we know that John Doe must worship a different God. If Jane Doe says, “Baptism cannot save you”; the God of the Scriptures says, “Baptism now saves you” (1 Peter 3:16), we don’t have a positive ID. If your God says, “There are many different path’s to God”, and the God of the scriptures says, “Straight is the gate and narrow the way that leads to eternal life” (Matthew 7:13-14), then you have fabricated a golden calf, and given God a fake ID.
I don’t know how far you can stray from the Bible or misinterpret it before you are no longer worshiping God. And frankly, it’s not up to me to say. God’s not going to change his judgment based on mine. Now I suppose that one who accidently misinterprets the Bible is closer to the kingdom of God than one who fudges the data, but God gives us no clear margin of acceptable error. He simply says to every person, “Hate evil and cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9).
Determining whether “We all worship the same God” is at best a guessing game without the means to make a positive ID. Seeking after a god is not good enough. Plenty of young ladies seek after a good husband, and settle for a sleazebag because impatience and desperation clouds their judgment. Plenty of Men say their seeking the “right woman”, when really it’s just an excuse for being a tomcat. Plenty of people worship a god, but it doesn’t always mean that they are worshipping the one and only true God.
Fellow Lutherans and indeed all denominational Christians: telling another Christian friend “We all worship the same God” might ease some conversational tension and it might make you feel better about your friend, but please be cautious and sparing with such a pronouncement. After all, those words don’t have the power to justify anyone before God. And what’s worse, it could sound like you’re saying denominational differences don’t really matter—which is the tack of a Non-Denominational Church, not yours. Denominational churches ought to confess the truth as they get it from Scripture, and leave it to God to decide for those who confess differently what’s acceptable error and what’s downright idol worship. We would better spend our time giving God a positive ID by searching scripture, rather than justifying people through pronouncing judgments better left to God.
God gives us the means to make a Positive ID of Him by his Word, and for those who do so, Jesus Christ promises to return the favour. For those who just throw Jesus’ name around but don’t bother to make a Positive ID, Jesus will say, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21-23). But to you who know Jesus Christ, not just by saying his name, but by faith in who he is, what he has done, and what he intends for you and all believers as recorded in the Scriptural witness, he will give a positive ID of you to his Heavenly Father, because he will recognize you as one who took on his robe of righteousness in baptism, one who looked upon the true Son of God and believed, one of his own flock of whom he says, “I know my sheep, and my sheep know me” (John 10:27).
Our Fall schedule will resume on Sunday, September 9, 2011. At that time please watch for the following opportunities for worship and for Christian Education.
· 9:00 a.m. Traditional Worship will again be offered. This service is normally from the Lutheran Service Book, makes use of traditional hymns, and is lead by the organ.
· 11:15 a.m. Sunday School following the Object Lesson at the 11:00 a.m. service.
· 11:00 a.m. Contemporary Worship. This service is lead by a worship team which may include piano, guitar, bass guitar and other instruments. Normally the liturgy is spoken and the songs are selected from a variety of contemporary resources.
SUNDAY SCHOOL NEWS
Welcome to a new Sunday School year!! Thanks to all the wonderful people that have volunteered to teach and assist with the Sunday School program! May God bless us again this year! Hallelujah!!!!
There will be a need to fill some staff positions in the Sunday School program; which will begin again on September 9th. If you are interested in being part of the Sunday School program in any way please let Kathy Withage know. Her home phone number is 403-394-1956. The Sunday School needs classroom assistants in the Pre-School classroom and in the Kindergarten/Grade One classroom. We need teachers in the Pre-School classroom, Kindergarten/Grade One classroom, Grade 2/3/4 classroom and in the Grade 5/6 classroom. Teachers and assistants work on a month rotation, which means that you only teach the class of your choice once a month, unless you would like to teach more often which would be wonderful, for the students!
If you would be interested in only leading the “Opening” please let me know: during the “Opening” time we say a prayer, collect the offering, sing songs and do a fun activity. Sunday School takes place during the 11 am worship service; so it runs from approximately 11:15 to 12:15.
The “Opening” is held in the Fellowship Hall with all the Sunday School children gathered together from about 11:15 to 11: 30. The children are then dismissed to their Sunday School classrooms. In the classrooms the children review the “Lesson of the Day” that was introduced to them by Pastor Nathan at “Object Lesson” time, during the worship service. Then they work on “The Activity of the Day”, which could be a craft, a game, a song, or some other relevant, fun activity. Attendance is kept by the classroom teachers. The class time ends with a prayer.
September 9th will be our first day of Sunday School and the curriculum is normally complete by mid May. We will have a Registration Table set up in the church Foyer before the 11 a.m. church service on the first day of Sunday School. All the Sunday School children: Pre-School through Grade 6, that will be attending Sunday School can be registered on this day. We will begin the year with a study of “Moses”. Please give Kathy a call if you have any questions or comments.
When the kids come to the Fellowship Hall for their first day of Sunday School they will be greeted by this year’s staff. We will do some “Icebreaker Activities” so that everyone gets to know each other, we will sing songs, play games, make a group banner and do other exciting activities. It will be a wonderful beginning to this year’s Sunday School Program. Our study of “Moses” will begin on Sunday, September 16th.
“When the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys.” (Exodus 40: v.36)
LITTLE LAMBS CHRISTIAN PRESCHOOL
Little Lambs Christian Preschool is gearing up for a new school year. This year preschool starts with orientation days for the children on September 5th and 6th with the first day of regular classes starting on September 10th. There are still a couple of spaces available in the Preschool, if you are interested, please call Tanya at 403-892-6627.
The Preschool would like to congratulate Teacher Kindra on the birth of her beautiful baby boy, Copeland Barry Alexander Birss, born on August 11th. Kindra will be taking this year off to spend with Copeland and his big sisters. We would like to welcome our new teacher, Shannon Steeves to the preschool. Teacher Shannon is Level III certified. We would also like to welcome our new classroom assistant, Jade Ronne to our Preschool. Miss Jade recently completed her Level II training at the Lethbridge College.
Little Lambs Christian Preschool would like to thank Leslie Barton for keeping the books in order for the past few years. We appreciated your hard work Leslie! Also, a big 'Thank You' to Bert Witt from Little Lambs. Over the summer, Bert constructed additional 'cubbies' for our growing preschool. They look great, thanks Bert! We would also like to thank Fran and Joanne for their 'behind the scenes' efforts at the Preschool, washing hand towels and cleaning toys every week. Thanks Fran and Joanne!
The Quilting Group will be meeting again from 1 to 4 on Wednesdays, starting on Sept 5th. All interested people are invited to attend and are asked to bring needles, thread and other quilting equipment and supplies that you may have on hand. "The Quilting Group will be hosting coffee fellowship on Sept 23rd after the 11:00 a.m. service. Completed quilts will be on display."
WORSHIP TEAM NEWS
The worship team is inviting current team members as well as new members with musical talents to pop in for a "jam session" on Friday, Sept. 14th at 7 p.m. Feel free to bring your own instruments and join in as we cover new music.
Now that fall is in the air, we may be turning our thoughts to some indoor activities. We will begin playing bridge on Thursday, September 13th here at the Church at 2:00 p.m. and play for about two hours. For our returning bridge players we would ask that you phone Irene Jorgensen at 403-381-7378 ONLY if you are NOT able to attend. For any new players who wish to play, please feel free to show up at that time.
MOMMY’S TIME OUT /MOMS & TOTS
I am working at setting up a weekly Moms & Tots /Mommy’s Time Out group. My experience has been and the information I have received from some moms is for this program to be most effective it would be very beneficial to have child care in place for the children while moms meet together. I am at this point looking for volunteers that may be able to help us with childcare. So, if there are Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Dads, Youth or anyone who has approximately 2 hours once a week in the morning to provide some loving, nurturing, fun time with children please prayerfully consider sharing your gifts. This is a wonderful opportunity for some intergenerational connections to be made within out church family and helps all of us, especially our children feel connected to a larger Christian family. You need not commit for every week but let me know when and if you are available. Please contact Katherine Canfield if you could assist in this way or have other ideas and suggestions 403-327- 4336 or 403-756-2149.
PRAYING MOTHER’S GROUP
Whether your children are adults, live a continent away or just down the street or you have young children, teenagers, young adults still living at home or grandchildren they all need your prayers. By praying for them regularly, you can have an enormous influence on their spiritual, emotional and physical well being. Pray provides comfort and security, and also fulfills the mission the Lord has for us to pray for each other and bear one another’s burdens. I cannot think of no better way to truly love your children/grandchildren than by lifting them up in prayer on a consistent basis. If you would be interested in participating in this group please contact Katherine Canfield at 403-327-4336 or 403-756-2149 Time and date of the group have yet to be determined. Please express your interest and preference.
Friends, Brothers & Sisters in Christ, I would like to thank all of you for your warm welcome and acceptance of me into the position of Parish Coordinator here at Immanuel. Your welcome has been absolutely wonderful. Thank you!
I will introduce myself; I am Katherine Canfield, Immanuel’s new part time Parish Coordinator. I would like to share a little bit about myself for those who may not know me. I was born in Milk River and have live all my life in the southern Alberta area. I have been married 26 years. God has blessed me with my dear husband Larry and a blended family of five children and seven grandchildren. I have been a member of Immanuel Lutheran church since our transfer in from the Duchess Lutheran church some 24 years ago. My employment has included working as a Family Life Educator or Parenting Coach with Barons Eureka Warner Family & Community Services for about 10 years and then the past 12 years as a Home Visitation Advocate for Alberta Health Services. I live on a small farm south of Stirling Alberta with my husband. I know some in our church family and there are many faces I recognize, however there are also many of you I do not know. I am looking forward to meeting and getting better acquainted with the rest of the church family here at Immanuel. Please feel free to approach me when you see me, call me or stop by the office and have a coffee with me and share your thoughts and ideas. Part of my job description is to be the “go to” person to share new ideas for programming etc. here at Immanuel so if you have some ideas, come share; let’s talk. I have officially started my part time position here at Immanuel on June 19th and plan at least at the beginning to be at the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
My contact information is as follows:
Phones: Home: 403-756-2149 Church Office: 403-327-4336
Mailing addresses: Katherine Canfield Katherine Canfield P.O. Box 82 20 Rocky Mountain Blvd. West Stirling, Alberta Lethbridge , Alberta T0K-2E0 T1K-8E1
Yours in Christ,
PARISH COORDINATOR INSTALLATION
In June, Katherine Canfield began her work as our Part-Time Parish Coordinator at Immanuel. On September 9th, we will officially install her in that capacity during the 11a.m. service. Come and join the congregation as we ask God to bless Katherine and commission her for work in His Church, for His Kingdom.
Our Lord Jesus Christ commands in the last Chapter of Matthew "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE ALL THAT I HAVE COMMANDED YOU." The Holy Bible is God's own self-disclosure, and so Jesus commands his church to teach God's Word because it's not something we're born with, but something we need to learn. Therefore, confirmation is a program to make disciples by teaching them God's Word. "Discipleship" or "Learning" is a lifelong exercise for the Christian, but confirmation is designed to confirm in the student a basic knowledge of the God of the Bible in Jesus Christ, and the way that he intends to work in and through all believers. Those who are "confirmed" in the faith have been given the tools needed to "examine themselves" before receiving Christ's own body and blood in Holy Communion (1 Corinthians 11:28). Confirmation instruction is intended for youths in Grade 7 and Grade 8. If you know of any such youth who wishes to participate in confirmation this year and hasn’t received an invitation, please contact Pastor Nathan. firstname.lastname@example.org 403-915-4336
MEN'S BIBLE STUDY
For two years now, men from Immanuel Lutheran have gotten together on Wednesday mornings at 7:30 for Bible Study, coffee and conversation. We take a break every summer, but now we will be resume beginning on September 12th at 7:30a.m. at the church. When we last met, we had finished the first part of a bible study on the Islamic religion and how it compares to Biblical Christianity. We will take up part two of this study to start off the season. If you are interested, please join us as we weekly consult God’s Word for your life.
MIKE KUHN, LUTHERAN BIBLE TRANSLATORS
Pastor Mike Kuhn and his wife Kara from Lutheran Bible Translators will be coming to Immanuel to preach and give a presentation on the work that is taking place to make God's Word available to the nations. The Kuhn’s will be presenting in the Fellowship Hall on September 23rd after the 11am Worship Service.
I am offering a new Bible Study for the Fall. It will be every Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in the Fireplace Room at the church. The first lesson will be on September 19. Please sign up in the narthex if you are interested or give me a call at home at 403-381-4351. During the first year we will focus on, what I call the Big Picture of the Bible, looking at how God used the land, neighboring tribes and empires to impact the people of God. It showed them and us that it is not possible to save ourselves by obeying the Law perfectly but we need a Savior, who is Jesus Christ, to save them and us. Throughout the whole Bible, Jesus is the central character. The Old Testament predicts His coming, He came in the New Testament and there are many areas of the Bible that talk about His second coming. I will use a video series, called "That the World May Know" to help us focus on the lesson at hand. Again, talk to me if you need further clarification about the study.Thank You!Linda Egli
First of all, I want to thank all who offered to do Coffee Fellowship during the last year! It was greatly appreciated. Starting September 9, we are going back to our old schedule. The 11:00 service will have coffee fellowship on the NON communion Sundays. Again, those involved in a group of some kind, individual families and friends should feel free to sign up to serve coffee in the narathex, close to the kitchen entrance. You have the option of serving us in the narathex or in the Fellowship Hall. It is not what you serve or where you serve that matthews but the fact that by doing a Sunday, you are encouraging us to fellowship as Christians at Immanuel and it gives us an opportunity to meet new people visiting in our church!Thank You!Linda Egli
Immanuel Lutheran Church- Financial Statement - JULY, 2012
A-BC District Mission Donations for Month..................................................................... $325.00
A-BC District Mission Donations to Date ......................................................................... 1,918.00
CLWR Mission Donations for Month .................................................................................... 180.00
CLWR Mission Donations to Date ........................................................................................ 1,366.00
Servus Credit Union Cheq. Acc.t Balance....................................................................... $66,263.97